Tuesday, August 27, 2013

NASA to Crash Test Helicopter to Study Safety

Anybody who says NASA researchers don't know how to have a smashing good time has not met a team at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

They are test engineers whose job it is to make aircraft safer by crashing them.

In late August those engineers plan to drop a 45-foot long helicopter fuselage from about 30 feet to test improved seat belts and seats and to collect crash-worthiness data.

NASA is collaborating with the Navy, Army and Federal Aviation Administration on the Transport Rotorcraft Airframe Crash Testbed full-scale crash tests at NASA Langley's Landing and Impact Research (LandIR) Facility.

LandIR, a 240-foot high, 400-foot long gantry, has an almost 50-year history.

It started out as the Lunar Landing Research Facility, where Neil Armstrong and other astronauts learned to land on the moon.

Then it became a crash test facility where engineers could simulate aircraft accidents.

And recently it added a big pool where NASA is testing Orion space capsule mock-ups in anticipation of water landings.

The August drop test is one of the most complicated and ambitious aircraft crash experiments at NASA Langley in recent memory.

"We have instrumented a former Marine helicopter airframe with cameras and accelerometers," said lead test engineer Martin Annett.

"Almost 40 cameras inside and outside of the helicopter will record how 13 crash test dummies react before, during and after impact. Onboard computers will also record more than 350 channels of data."

External cameras will capture images of an unusual looking helicopter. Instead of the usual Marine gray, technicians painted one entire side in black polka dots over a white background.

It is not a fashion statement, but a photographic technique called full field photogrammetry. Each dot represents a data point.

High speed cameras filming at 500 images per second track each dot, so after everything is over, researchers can plot and "see" exactly how the fuselage buckled, bent, cracked or collapsed under crash loads.

NASA Langley is planning to stream the crash test August 28 on the Internet live at about 1 p.m. EDT at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-lrc

No comments:

Post a Comment